About the Author
Opinion Archives
E-mail Scott
Scott's Links

Filibusters, precedents and Chuck Hagel

By Scott Tibbs, February 25, 2013

Last week, Republicans in the Senate took an unprecedented step, blocking Barack Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. This will come back to haunt the next Republican elected as President, and (more importantly) is both bad policy and bad politics. Republicans should not have blocked a vote.

I find it strange that there is such strong opposition to Hagel while John Kerry sailed through the nomination process to become our new Secretary of State. The same philosophical objections to Hagel could have also been used to justify blocking Kerry's nomination, especially given Kerry's long record of Leftist positions on foreign policy. Yet while Kerry was overwhelmingly approved by a vote of 94 to 3, Hagel is being blocked. Why the double standard?

Last November, I argued that unless there is evidence of gross incompetence or corruption, "the President should have the ability to appoint whoever they want for positions in their administration." That isn't the case with Hagel, a decorated combat veteran who is clearly qualified for the position. The opposition to Hagel is ideological, which is reasonable. But let's be realistic here: Obama is going to choose someone who represents his views on defense policy. The objections to Hagel are really objections to Obama, and Obama's nominee is going to implement Obama's policies.

Like it or not, Barack Obama is the President. The Senate needs to review and question Obama's nominees for his cabinet, but the President's choices for who he wants should be respected - again, absent evidence of gross incompetence or corruption. The Republicans are playing a dangerous game here, giving Democrats a built-in excuse to block the cabinet nominations of the next Republican President and exposing themselves to charges of hypocrisy when they object. Senate Republicans should reverse course and allow an up-or-down vote on Hagel.